American producer and director Merian C. Cooper met his partner Ernest B. Schoedsack in Poland just after serving as a lieutenant colonel with the Kosciusko Flying Squadron during World War I. Together the two went on to co-direct two documentaries. Their success lead Cooper and Schoedsack to begin working in fictional features notable for their exotic backgrounds. Their most famous film is the classic King Kong (1933), in which Cooper also acted. In 1933, he gave up directing in favor of full-time producing when he succeeded long-time friend David O. Selznick as vice president in charge of production at RKO. Selznick then appointed Cooper the vice-president of Selznick International Pictures in 1936. Cooper entered the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II where he became a colonel and chief of staff to General Claire Chennault in China. When he finally retired from the military, he was a brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force. In 1947, he and director John Ford formed Argosy Pictures where Cooper co-produced many of Ford's movies. In addition to working in films and the military, Cooper is also the author of several books including The Sea Gypsy, Under the White Eagle, and King Kong. He co-produced the first Cinerama presentation in 1952; that year, he also won an honorary Oscar for his many contributions to American cinema.